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Electoral Process in Panama

In 1972, Torrijos staged government controlled and basically unconstitutional elections to a new National Assembly of Community Representatives, which dutifully conferred on Torrijos extraordinary powers as Chief of Government for six years. Torrijos successfully managed the forces of Panamanian nationalism. He finally persuaded the Americans to enter into a new Panama Canal Treaty in late 1977 under which the United States pledged to respect Panamanian sovereignty over the Canal Zone, to raise its annual user fee payments substantially and to withdraw its forces by 2000, subject to certain defense rights. Torrijos also built populist support for his rule among peasants, workers and students and initiated the first substantial land, education and health care reforms in Panama's history. Black and Flores say that Torrijos referred to his rule as "dictatorship with a heart."

Noriega's Rise to Power and the Elections of 1984 and 1989

To satisfy the Americans, with whom Canal Treaty negotiations sputtered on intermittently during the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and to broaden his base of mass support, Torrijos had legalized political parties under the 1972 Constitution and permitted elections to the new Assembly to be held in 1978. The reconstituted assembly, which remained controlled by Torrijos' supporters, elected Aristides Royo president.

After Torrijos' death, the new leader of the National Guard, Gen. Ruben Paredes, forced Royo to resign in July 1982 and installed Ricardo de la Espriella in his place. In April 1983, a new Constitution was approved by a popular referendum. However, the Europa World Yearbook says that, "in spite of new constitutional measures to limit the power of the National Guard, de facto power remained with the armed forces," which then became known as the National Defence Forces (FDP). Behind the scenes, Brig., later Gen., Manuel Noriega, formerly FDP's chief of intelligence, be...

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Electoral Process in Panama. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:24, August 17, 2017, from
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